Rod Drick drew in a sharp breath of air. “If we fought the battle like this, we would be in great trouble! The Uruk legion will push the battlefront as far as possible, then retreat to where they found most comfortable to build the defense line. As long as they could keep us from there, all he has previously engulfed would be his new territory, with the entire Syrian desert in his pocket too.”
Amon nodded. “From the city of Uruk to the city of Cape, the east and west ends of the Syrian desert will then be under their control. They can choose to advance northward, or attack the Duc plain from Kish. There’ll be no worries behind. What a brilliant move for them! Even if we manage to take back the sepat of Cape one day, they will have been controlling a significant part of the Duc plain.”
Rod Drick said with his mouth agape: “If all of these come true, the kingdom of Bablon will be the most powerful country in the continent, surpassing the Ejypt Empire. And Gilgamesh will surely become the greatest hero in history. His name will overshadow the deities!”
Amon shook his head and said: “This is only their ultimate goal, a big dream. First, they have to seize one part of the sepat of Cape, and it is where we are going to stop them today.”
George frowned and sighed. “It is not possible. The Pharaoh ordered us to block the Uruk legion at the border. The enemy came from afar, while we don’t need to travel much. We should have had the upper hand. But right now, our troops are tired and weak. From the border to the Cape City we have nothing but plain land. Governor Drick, in all these years that you have been in charge of the city, have you not thought of this?”
Rod Drick said with a wry smile: “How could I not have thought of this? My father had already considered it when he was in office, but take a look at the terrain. The border is nothing but a line drawn in the vast wilds. There is no wall. There is no gate. The enemy can break in from any point. Even if you build fortifications all along the border. Once one of them was broken through, the other would be useless. It’s a waste of time.”
“Moreover, the Syah desert being the natural barrier, Cape has had centuries of peace. For what reason would I invest manpower, resources and time to build lots of fortifications for an enemy that might never come? However, I did build something over the years, the Khenmet town, which is also where I hoarded supplies for the expeditionary forces. It is here, right in the middle of the line drawn by Commander-in-chief Amon.”
After a long discussion, they reached the same conclusion: the first battle will surely end in defeat, and the Uruk legion’s attack could not be stopped at the border. Just when Amon was feeling helpless, he noticed that Aristotle had been silent the whole time. He asked: “Sir, you have heard everyone’s words, and the conclusion is that this battle cannot be won. Do you have any suggestions?”
Aristotle finally said: “I am neither from Ejypt nor from Bablon, so I would like to express my thoughts as a bystander. This is going to be a tough battle, and the Ejyptian army is in an unfavorable position. Confronting the enemy right at the border will certainly result in defeat. Therefore, your focus shouldn’t be around the gain and loss of the lands. The better is to retreat to Khenmet, so that you can regain the strategic advantage in defense.
Rod Drick was shocked: “Do you mean that we hand over the vast territory to the invaders?”
Spreading his hands, Aristotle replied: “Although I know little about military affairs, since you lords here have come to the same conclusion after a long discussion and analysis, it appears to me that this territory will be occupied by the Uruk legion anyway. From then on, there can only be two eventualities. Either they advance and occupy all the land after defeating you, or you let them advance first and you retreat to somewhere you can establish a stable line of defense. I think the second one results better.”
Amon threw out the next question: “The Pharaoh’s order is to keep the enemy from the border Your idea goes against the order.”
Aristotle shook his head and said: “Amon the great warrior, you are the Commander-in-chief. You are given the power to command. Along with power comes responsibility. You should come up with your own plan and mobilize the army and arrange things accordingly. You can report the results of today’s discussion to the Pharaoh, and then exercise your power as the Commander-in-chief. If you are unable to do this, you should tell the Pharaoh to appoint another Commander-in-chief. What’ the point holding the power but not using it?”
After a moment of thought, Amon nodded, “Thank you for your good advice. I understand what you mean. But by retreating we don’t mean escaping. It is necessary to arrange several lines of defense in order to allow us to fight the enemy while withdrawing. We have to slow them down. Most importantly, we have to move the habitants and livestock in this territory to the west of the Khenmet, saving them from being pillaged by the Uruk legion. I will report our battle plan to the Pharaoh while Lord Drick should get the evacuation started right now.”
Rod Drick stared absent-mindedly at the sandbox. After a while, Metatro nudged him with his elbow and asked: “My Lord, what are you thinking about?”
Rod Drick’s expression was a little weird. He replied with a tone of pity: “It’s my territory you are talking about. The servants and the livestock can be evacuated, but the farms and many other things can only be left to the enemy.”
With a half smile, Aristotle asked: “My Lord, are you still thinking of mobilizing the army to defend your territory?”
Rod Drick looked up, “Of course not. Even if we can defend the Bablonians at the border, we should focus on the big picture. The Commander-in-chief has already made the plan. We need to stick to the plan. I will give up my farms and land for now. If Ejypt wins the war, they will still be mine in the end.”
Power in hand, Amon came up with his plan . He decided to carry out a strategic retreat and ordered the Horus legion and the Isis legion in the rear to make haste to the vicinity of Khenmet in order to establish a defense line and to coordinate with the retreat of the An-Ra legion and the Seth legion. Giving up the strategic depth of nearly two hundred miles from the border to Khenmet, it is unclear whether the Pharaoh was satisfied with Amon’s decision, but he did not change the Commander-in-chief. At this juncture, the war was still top priority.
Amon established several lines of defense along the route of retreat, but did not request the troops to defend these locations at all costs, allowing them to simply retreat once they have fought the enemy. The purpose of these defense lines were to provide cover for the troops that has fought the enemy and in the midst of retreat. In this way, multiple layers of troops retreat like the peeling of skin, thus delaying the advancement speed of the enemy’s vanguard, and providing cover to the transfer of personnel and resources to the rear. Amon himself was the first to leave, and he hurried to Khenmet to direct the true main line of defense.
The Uruk legion’s vanguard was an unstoppable force, and they advanced through the border of Cape like a hot knife cutting through butter. The troops responsible for slowing them down naturally came from the An-Ra legion. Although Amon did not require them to defend successfully, the troops fought bravely nonetheless, and this resulted in significant casualties and losses.
After completing their task, the troops from the three defense lines north of Khenmet made their retreat subsequently. The number of casualties totalled to nearly a thousand, and even the commander in charge of them, Hardedef, was seriously injured. However, they managed to slow down the speed of the Uruk legion, providing cover for the transfer of personnel and resources behind them. The result was that only a small percentage of civilians did not manage to evacuate in time.
After advancing nearly two hundred miles into the enemy territory and capturing large swaths of land along the way, the Uruk legion’s unstoppable march was finally halted at the Khenmet defense line. The time had come for both sides to finally engage each other in proper battle in this location.
At this moment, the newly reorganized Horus legion and Isis legion had arrived at Khenmet, while the Seth legion had transferred large quantities of resources and personnel evacuated from the subjugated territory. Amon led the troops from An-Ra legion which had retreated from previous defense lines to join up with the main army.
Khenmet was located in the narrowest part of the land between two seas in the sepat of Cape, the throat from which one enters the inner lands of Ejypt. A small mountain range that is not too high ran from north to south, covered by wild trees, bushes and strange rocks. It was like a naturally formed intermittent barrier. Khenmet was situated in a relatively flat mountain pass, the only location for the trading caravans to pass comfortably. Since many years ago, a decently sized market town had formed on its own.
Later, Rod Drick established a fortress here and built perimeter walls. The town burgeoned into a small city. When the Pharaoh led the army on an expedition, this fortress was the logistics base for supplying resources. On the northern and southern sides of Khenmet, mines and quarries were constructed along the small mountain range to extract building stones, while thick wooden fences were set up in open areas.
When Amon arrived in Khenmet, he realized that it was a strategic point. Going further back, the terrain once again became flat and open, with the main city of Cape located less than a hundred miles away.
The mountain range here was not very tall. The side facing Cape city was relatively steeper and more precipitous, while the side facing the borders was relatively gentle and flat. If this place was taken by the Uruk legion, they would obtain a great strategic advantage and then be able to easily defend against attacks coming from Ejypt’s inner lands. Therefore, this was one location that they could not afford to lose.
However, it was not easy to defend this place. They could not simply passively turtle themselves within the walls and defensive structures while being sieged. Once enemy manages to break through the mountain range on the sides, Khenmet would be surrounded by the enemy. This was just a town and the perimeter walls were not that high, so it was difficult to defend against long lasting attacks. Although the town can contain large troops, if all of them were to be trapped in the town, it would become overly crowded. If that happened, they would lose the ability to set up battle formations, thus completely losing the advantage of fighting with a large army.
Therefore, Amon decided to set up battle formations outside the town to face the enemy while using the town and structures behind to provide reliance and cover when necessary. This would allow troops to retreat safely and to reorganize themselves in the town before moving out to fight the enemy again. After all, the upcoming battle was going to be an arduous tug-of-war alternating between offense and defense.
Surprisingly, Amon met Gabriel in Khenmet. This supreme warrior had been sent to replace the previous commander of the Isis legion, Ruia, who had been injured and had returned to recuperate. When the Pharaoh’s army fought with Hittite, they suffered loss in high lords and supreme beings. For example, the supreme mage Cezane and supreme warrior Vikar who were tasked to deliver a message to the An-Ra legion had sustained serious injuries and were currently unable to join the battle. The Adoratrice sent Gabriel to the front lines.
Amon said to Gabriel: “You come just at the right time. Hardedef is badly hurt. The Isis legion is not in its full state. I am planning to form an elite unit as vanguard, selecting from the three legions. And I want you to be the commander. This will be extremely dangerous. Are you willing to accept?”
Gabriel placed her hand on the hilt of her sword and bowed. “Since it’s an order from you, the Commander-in-chief, why would you need to ask me if I accept? It is a great honor. May I express my gratitude for your trust!”
Amon certainly trusted Gabriel, since he was well aware of the loyalty and courage of the supreme warrior. Back then when Maria first recommended Gabriel as the commander of the An-Ra legion, Amon did not accept it. He chose Hardedef instead. Firstly, it was because he did not want to take away the Adoratrice’s most important support and guardian. Secondly, as his first time to be a commander, he needed to establish authority over his subordinates, so Hardedef was obviously more appropriate. But now that he was the Commander-in-chief, he surely wanted to appoint someone he knew and trusted when it came to vital battles. Gabriel was here, so it could only be her! This mission was extremely dangerous since she might have to face Enkidu, the greatest warrior in the continent.
Just as Gabriel accepted her latest order, the Uruk legion’s troops arrived. Gilgamesh also understood the situation and did not order his troops to attack Khenmet directly. Instead, they set up a base camp dozens of miles away and sent a messenger to deliver a declaration of war. When a great army embarked on a conquest, it naturally needed justification. A declaration of war was meant to declare one’s reasons and goals for war. Not only was it used for taking the moral high ground, it was also used for boosting the army’s morale. The contents of the declaration was as follows:
Hela! Marduc the great, almighty and benevolent
His orders are followed by the sky, the earth and us
In his kind and fair gift we grow and harvest
Before him sacrifice we grateful and reverent
His glory shines in the sky, his feats are marked on the earth
Along with the second full moon comes the new oracle
The land named after his greatness, proof of his victory
Was coveted by the son of Sety Merenptah
The tyrant whose greed has clouded his faith in the gods
Who invaded the land of Hittite and mistreated its people
… the land of his greatness shall welcome a glorious return
And the tyrant shall receive the punishment …
… our army will keep the gate to the great lands and seas
And the realm of Horus will again have peace …
The declaration ended with a long list of honorifics. There were about fifty such titles used to praise Marduc. This god had a really long full name.
Reading the declaration, Amon realized that Bablon also had received Marduc’s oracle, just like Hittite and Ejypt from their own gods. Gilgamesh had launched the conquest in the name of the oracle, and there were two main things in the oracle’s content. The first was to punish the Pharaoh for his insolence towards the gods, his greed and cruelty, as well as for daring to covet the legendary land of Marduc. The second was to guide the people to restore the glory of Marduc’s land.
In other words, Bablon was also joining the contest for Duc plains. It had great ambition, as could be seen in its desire to control the entire Syah desert and the Duc plains. Just as Amon and the other commanders had analyzed before the war, if they truly achieved all their targets, Bablon would rise to become the strongest power among the neighbouring countries, while Gilgamesh would become the greatest hero without equal in the continent.
Amon had read the ancient records in the archives of the Isis Shrine. They recorded the war between the old gods that happened in the area where Duc used to be. Both Enlil and Marduc belonged to the winning side, but a conflict arose between them, causing the Anunnaki gods to break into two factions. The location where Marduc gained his victory and fame, Marduc’s land, was still within the realm of Enlil. Therefore, the line in the declaration “shall welcome a glorious return” should be referring to the Bablon army eventually retaking control of the Duc plains and finally constructing Marduc’s shrines on those lands.
Just as Golier said to Amon, “It can be foreseen that during the disputes between mortals, there will also be disputes between the gods. People will drive their own desires in the name of their god.” However, both Golier and Amon had no choice but to become involved in this war between countries.
The aim of the Uruk legion was clearly stated in the declaration, they wanted to occupy the Ejyptian land in the east of the Khenmet defense line. “The gate to the great lands and seas” referred to Khenmet.
Due to Amon’s strategic retreat, the Uruk legion has managed to occupy the area that they wanted. However, there were still two things they needed. Military-wise, they needed to conquer Khenmet and the defenses on the mountain range on both sides in order to be able to defend this newly occupied land. Politics-wise, they needed the Pharaoh to officially cede this territory to Bablon. These were things that the Pharaoh would never agree to, so a war still needed to be fought to determine the outcome.
Amon had the declaration sent to the Pharaoh while he wrote a reply to the Uruk legion. In the reply, Amon did not bother to mention the gods. He was not good at writing verses. He simply stated that they would meet on the battlefield three days from now.
Three days later, on the plains in the east of Khenmet, the two armies set up formations on the battlefield. Under the scorching sun, a blinding light reflected off the armor and weapons of the soldiers. The soldiers gripped their weapons tightly as they faced the enemy’s mighty formations, so much so that their knuckles went white, but nevertheless, all of them stood upright as sweat ran down their bodies.
The Uruk legion has always achieved victory with pure strength. They adopted a standard formation, where the war chariots were positioned at the forefront. Each chariot had a driver, a warrior holding a shield and a spear, as well as an archer in leather armor armed with a sword. Heavy cavalry was on either side of the vanguard, while the foot soldiers were at the rear.
Amon saw Gilgamesh again. The young and handsome governor was as proud as ever. He was sitting in a luxurious carriage right in the middle of the battlefield, with a large purple umbrella over his head. There were no guards on the carriage or any followers on either side. He simply sat there alone at ease, as if he was on an excursion.
This scene was nearly identical to their first accidental encounter. The only difference was that instead of a wine glass, Gilgamesh was holding a scroll made of sheepskin in his hand. Next to the seat were placed bows and arrows, weapons and a staff. The hero was wearing an exquisite cloak without any armor on his body.
Gilgamesh sat at the forefront of his army, some distance away from the formation and seemingly unprotected, but no one dared to underestimate him. There was also a driver seated in front of his carriage who was a huge burly man, and a huge shield as well as a heavy broadsword placed on the shaft of the carriage. It was the weapon he had used to slay Humbaba.
The top warrior of the continent, Enkidu, was sitting with his head raised. He did not wear a helmet but simply wore a unique bronze-colored scalemail. From afar, Amon could detect a powerful aura from the armor which he felt familiar. It was most likely made from the scales of Humbaba. It definitely possessed remarkable magical defensive properties.
红岬镇 : Khenmet
Silavin: We are targeting that all chapters will be released on this day and date every week.